Friday, October 16, 2009

Inspiration for a card show

I have a card show to attend this weekend. Since there are only four card shows remotely close to me every year, this should make me positively giddy.

But I'm not giddy. The dial doesn't go that high these days. Now, don't get me wrong. I am happy. But I'm happy mixed with concern that the car I'm driving will actually get me to the show, and that the meager amount of cash I have this time around will allow me to last at the show as long as I usually do (my adorable wife did kick in some money for me to take along. She is awesome).

So I am posting this 1972 Steve Garvey card to remind me of how great any card show is as long as you find one card that you have always wanted. And you buy it.

I bought this Garvey card at the very first card show I ever attended. I was a teenager at the time and had money of my own to spend.

Card shows were not very common when I was a kid, at least not where I grew up. It took a good six or seven years of collecting before I found one to attend. My brothers and I excitedly scraped up what cash we had saved and walked the few blocks to get to the show.

I spotted the Garvey card about midway through the show. I still remember where I was standing when I found it. At the time, price guides were a relatively new concept, but I had bought a couple and was up on the totals. I knew the Garvey card was costly. It was from the high number series and it was Garvey's second-year card.

I can't remember exactly how much I spent on it. I think it was $15, which is about 10 dollars less than what you'd pay for it online today, unless you wanted a graded copy, which means you have money to burn (and in my current financial state, I shouldn't comment any more on that topic).

But spending $15 on one card was a big deal to a kid who was flipping newspapers on people's porches. And it was a big deal at the beginning of the '80s, since the hobby boom and the concept of cards as "investments" was only just starting. "15 dollars on one card!" I could hear my mother's voice in my ear.

I can remember debating with myself briefly whether I should pull the trigger on a card with that price tag. But it was only briefly. I told the man I wanted the card, surrendered the cash, and then guarded that card with my life on the walk home. I told my mom I got some cards. I didn't say how much they cost.

For a couple years, when I paid a great deal of attention to the monetary value of my cards, the Garvey card was the most expensive card I owned, as card values ballooned throughout the '80s. Then I started to hold down better paying jobs and met some fellow collectors my age, and fell in love with the world of vintage cards. Back then, you only seemed like "a collector" if you were into vintage cards because they were the only cards that cost a lot of money (They weren't called "vintage" then. They were just "old"). There was no present-day card that cost more than 5 or 10 cents.

Times are different now and my collecting habits are different. I will go to the show with an eye on both old cards and the very latest. I have a list that is all over the map. If I had to predict, I'll probably spend most of my cash on vintage. Because even though all of it is just cardboard, and worthless to all but an infinitesimal percentage of people, vintage cards are the ones that still generate the biggest "oh, wow" reaction from me. And those will be the cards that I will guard with my life on the walk (or drive) home.


  1. Good luck at the card show. Hope you manage to find something that makes you go "oh, wow" :)

  2. Really awesome wife to give you extra money to go to a card show!(Especially on "Sweetest Day" week-end) Have fun !!!

  3. everybody goes in with a list and comes home with something totally different.

  4. What is the story with that jersey? I have a '73 Tommy John card with that jersey, but I never knew the Dodgers ever had a stripe down their sleeve. I thought it might have been a spring training jersey based on my card, but that obviously ins't the case on yours.

  5. Zach ~ According to the Baseball Hall Dressed to the Nines site, the Dodgers wore a stripe on their road uniforms during the 1971 season, but only the '71 season. I guess that means the Tommy John photo on the '73 card is an older photo.

  6. Further investigation, Zach: Tommy John didn't play with the Dodgers in 1971. So the Dodgers must have had the jerseys with the stripes in spring training of 1972 (there are other Dodgers in the '73 set wearing those stripe jerseys in spring training shots), and then switched to different road jerseys without stripes during the season.

  7. opoohwan ~ the show is in Syracuse, N.Y.